A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Prison Garde, the new project from Vaughn Robert Squire, who used to produce hip-hop under the name Sixtoo, drops his debut LP on LA’s ferric house imprint 100% Silk. Prison Garde was started as “an outlet for house and boogie-influenced hardware jams,” in 2011, after Squire moved to Montreal to start a barber shop. Squire describes Occultsystem as “ten of his starkest greyscale technoid skeletons”, which is good news for anyone who follows hissing, sputtering, handmade techno. If you do, the words “made using a TR-909, Moog Minitaur, Juno-60, Tetra synthesizer, 3630 Compressor, some pedals, and a mixing desk,” will make you weep and drool.
Don’t let the “greyscale technoid skeletons” descriptor fool you, however, as Occultsystems is as smooth, and as colorful, as you would expect from 100% Silk. Rather than xeroxed industrial noise, Occultsystem is full of hovercraft trance synths that would do Robert Miles proud, Miami Bass, and underwater filter sweeps. Prison Garde takes you from the heavenly harmonies of the crystal spheres, to the depths of Drexciya‘s sub-aquatic kingdom, in the span of an hour.
Occultsystems is mostly made up of light, airy, floaty, drifting house music, complete with handclaps and a smooth, riding 4/4 pulse. This is no Buddha Lounge however, no empty-calorie floor filler. First off, the Juno-60 gives this a Carpenter edge, and the hand filtering and triggering automatically recalls the earliest days of house and techno music, making it a bit edgier by default.
The most striking thing about Occultsystems is how clean and organized this collection of songs is. Squire clearly has his shit together, and knows his machines. Never are loops left to sit stagnant, but basslines and kick drums are being constantly filtered and modified, while high-hats twitch and fluctuate like twinkling constellations. This arrangement, this seamless sequencing, is further enhanced by how each individual element is lovingly rendered and recorded. The snares pop and fizz like little fluffy crowds, while the kicks ride, low and solid, almost mnml in how their frequencies are so carefully filtered and placed. It’s never thuggish, and oppressive, as a lot of electronic music has a tendency to be, in the wake of dubstep.
Prison Garde is not here to clobber you. He’s here to make you dance. A lot. It is easy to imagine dancing to Occultsystem on an obsidian beach, next to a sea of black glass. Dancing eternally beneath the stars.
Occultsystem is smooth, while not becoming wallpaper. It illustrates a tremendous producer’s instincts, someone who understands the mechanics of electronic music down to a molecular level, and delivers thrills and epiphanies cleanly and efficient.
Although this is made on archaic technology, this is the music of the future.
I am quite ecstatic to have been introduced to music of Vaughn Robert Squire. There is no better feeling than discovering a new artist and discovering they’ve got loads of catalog to dig into. I highly recommend you check out Occultsystem, ‘cuz it’s awesome. And in case that’s not enough for you, Prison Garde has just released another new EP, as part of the ASL Singles Club, which came out digitally today, and is dropping on vinyl later this month. I’m including an embed of that record, as i advise you immerse yrself in this artist’s music, and become obsessed immediately. I’ll return with my thoughts in a couple of days with my thoughts on the EP.
And if that’s still not enough for you, Prison Garde also just released an hour’s worth of analog jams. I’ll post those here, also.
Although Occultspace has come out on tape, true to form for 100% Silk, these cuts are custom made for the dance floor, so i’ve taken the liberty of doing something new, and including a handy little DJ guide, with the tempo and key signature of each song, so you can make better and smoother mixes.
New World Mission – 121.74 – Em/G
Battery – 151.74 – Fm/Ab
Radio Jammer – 121.95 – Cm/Eb
Black Grey Module – 117.02 – Em/G
Option – 120 – Fm/Ab
Occultsystem – 122 – Fm/Ab
Plate Charger – 120 – Fm/Ab
Thud Drug – 120 – Cm/Eb
Grain Elevator – 100.67 – Ab
Facetime – 116.99 – F